Utah veteran-owned nonprofit pioneers VR technology to end veteran suicide
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
This Veterans Day, the Forge Forward Project is launching a national initiative to end veteran suicide with groundbreaking virtual reality technology capable of curing post-traumatic stress disorder.
Veterans who have seen combat or feel isolated are the most vulnerable to thoughts of suicide. Twenty to 30 percent of veterans who commit suicide also screened positive for PTSD. Many more go undiagnosed.
The Forge Forward Project was founded by doctors and members of the Utah National Guard as a way to provide a groundbreaking virtual reality solution to PTSD.
VR therapy, or the use of VR technology for psychological or therapeutic rehabilitation, is backed by more than 25 Years of scientific research. The Office of Naval Research believes this type of therapy, with its video game-like qualities, will resonate with the current generation of warfighters. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, video games can help veterans recover from post-traumatic stress.
In some studies, virtual reality therapy reduced stress response measurements by 56-90 percent, and in an open clinical trial of VR therapy by the Office of Naval Research, 45 percent of those treated for PTSD no longer screened positive. The Forge Forward Project wants to put VR headsets preloaded with lifesaving software into the hands of veterans. With these headsets, veterans can step into a soothing virtual environment integrated with neurocognitive games designed by neuroscientists and neuropsychologists in order to increase blood flow to the brain and jumpstart the healing process.
Additionally, veterans will be able to use this same VR technology to meet with crisis response managers or mental health therapists in a safe, virtual space, from anywhere in the world.
“As a recruiter, I love ensuring the success of everyone I bring into the Utah Army National Guard and now, I can make sure they’re successful after the military,” said Bric Simpson, Founder of the Forge Forward Project and Utah Army National Guard veteran.
“We believe that adversity doesn’t define you, it refines you—if you let it.”
The Forge Forward Project is the first veteran owned and operated nonprofit of its kind to use virtual reality to bring peace and healing to veterans.
To arrange public appearances or speaking engagements call James Dansie at 801-680-7469 or email info@ForgeForwardProject.org. To donate to the nonprofit or learn more, visit ForgeForwardProject.org/donate.